Tuesday, February 27, 2007

astronaut board

Our Astronaut Board came this weekend, so we've been able to start implementing the Kawar Vestibular Oculomotor Protocol at home. The goal of this therapy is to enhance the integration of the vestibular and visual systems. (This article is a really good explanation of the importance of this therapy for kids who need it.) Jacob's OT has been doing this protocol with him as part of his Sensory Integration sessions for nearly a year now, and he's made great progress with it, but we've found when he's had a week off from therapy sessions for whatever reason, he again has problems with these activities. We figured that daily work on this activity would help him maintain his progress.

The board rotates (it is build upon a lazy susan), and you rotate the child 10 times in each direction while they are in 3 different positions: sitting up (as Zoo Boy is demonstrating above, although his eyes should be CLOSED, but turning 4 soon, he's not the most cooperative child on the planet), lying on the right side (as Jacob is demonstrating) and lying on the left side. Focused visual activities are done between each change of position. (So the child is rotated in each direction in the position, then the visual activities are done.) Hence, each set of activities is done 3 times. After each set of rotations, the child keeps his eyes closed until he no longer feels dizzy. The purpose of the rotations is to produce nystagmus (the movement the eyes make in response to this vestibular input) in order to "warm up" the eyes for visual activities.

I'm not going to go into the details of the actual visual activities, because this therapy really needs to be done under the supervision of a trained therapist, but there are 4 specific exercises used that involve using penlights for tracking and "jumping" (moving between two focal points).

When Jacob's OT first started using this protocol with him, she was unable to get him dizzy. So he'd rotate around and immediately open his eyes. His vestibular system was underactive. But over time with the therapy, his vestibular system has begun kicking in, and now he's more sensitive to the rotations and actually has to wait for his nystagmus to stop before opening his eyes. Pretty cool! I assume this would likewise be a useful therapy for a child with an overactive vestibular system (um, that would be me, in fact, just rotating Jacob makes me want to vomit!), and I'm starting to use it with Zoo Boy for that very reason.

I'm not sure why I waited so long to get this piece of equiptment, but it's name finally popped up at the top of our priority list. Like so many other things that we've wound up just purchasing, we kept thinking "well, heck, WE could make that!" But of course, we never did. So eventually I felt like we'd dragged our heels long enough and took the plunge. I'm glad we did! It feels good to be working on this important piece of the Sensory puzzle on a daily basis.


At 10:12 PM, Blogger burgiboogie said...

This is very interesting to me. I will have to talk to my son's OT about this. My son has constant nystagmus, due to an eye condition. I wonder how this might play a part in his ability to regulate his vestibular system? His eyes rotate clockwise, rather than back and forth, and "they" swear this does not make what he sees rotate. However, he is constantly looking for what I call grounding, or support. hmmmm.. thanks for the thoughts:)

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Mary said...

I just found your blog when I searched for information about astronaut boards. My son will be 13 next week...he's ADHD but has many sensory issues. His middle-school OT started the astronaut board with him last week (she works with him during homeroom since it fits both their schedules). This week he is on Easter Break, so we'll have to wait until next week to start again.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

hi there.. hope you are still around. we are using this at our OT and want to order. did you order directly from the website that you indicated on the link? the board that is... it is just weird b/c it is a 'mail your payment' thing.. and wondered if it was the same board.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Harvest Moon Farm said...

Yes, I think that's where I ordered our board from.


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